NEWS
31/03/2020 1:12 PM AEDT | Updated 31/03/2020 5:48 PM AEDT

Coronavirus In Australia: NSW Police Confirm 'Lockdown', 34K More Hospital Beds To Come

Tasmania's second death recorded, government payments begin and more changes as Covid-19 crisis continues.

See the latest stories on the coronavirus outbreak. 

At least 4,200 cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in Australia and 18 people have died.

The virus has killed more than 35,000 people worldwide and more than 738,500 are infected.

Here is what is happening in Australia today:  

1. There Will Be 34,000 More Hospital Beds And Chairs 

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said 34,000 beds and chairs will be made available to the public hospital system thanks to a new “integrated partnership between the commonwealth and the states and the private hospital sector”.

He also explained that ICU staff from private hospitals will be able to help fight against the coronavirus crisis in Australia thanks to shared resources. 

“A third of intensive care units are within the private hospital system and will be made available,” he said. “Over 105,000 full-time and part-time staff, including over 57,000 full-time and part-time nursing staff.” 

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Minister for Health Greg Hunt 

2. New Social Distancing Fines, NSW Police Call It ‘Lockdown’

As tough restrictions on leaving the house came into play overnight, authorities confirmed police will issue on the spot fines to enforce social distancing rules.

The fresh government orders mean people in NSW could pay up to $11,000 in court ordered fines. A state-by-state breakdown on the fines can be found here.

“You’re in a lockdown wherever you live,” said NSW police commissioner Mick Fuller. “Wherever your primary home is, that’s where we want you to stay, unless you’re getting food or going to the doctor’s.” 

Brendon Thorne via Getty Images
Commissioner of the New South Wales Police Force, Mick Fuller addresses the media.

3. Businesses Register With JobKeeper Wage Assistance

Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed that as of 8am on Tuesday, “over 113,000 Australian businesses have registered their interest in the new #JobKeeper wage subsidy of $1500 per fortnight for each employee”.

“Our $130 billion plan is all about keeping Australians in jobs while we deal with this #coronavirus crisis,” the PM wrote on Twitter. 

More details about the government’s $130 billion wage package can be found here.

4. Australians Receive $750 Payment Today 

On Tuesday the first Economic Support payment of $750 will hit Australians’ bank accounts. 

“The first $750 payment will be paid automatically from today and progressively to those over 6.8 million people eligible for it, including pensioners, over coming weeks,” tweeted Scott Morrison. 

More details about who is eligible for these government payments can be found here

5. Tasmania Records Second Death 

An elderly man died at the Royal Hobart Hospital overnight, taking the state’s Covid-19 death toll to two. 

“This is a very sad time,” said Premier Peter Gutwein on Tuesday.

“This is two deaths in Tasmania, two deaths too many, and it serves as a warning to us all that these are going to be tough and difficult times and we must all do our part to keep Tasmania safe.”

Brook Mitchell via Getty Images
Tasmanian Premiere Peter Gutwein

6. Virgin Seeking Government Loan 

Virgin Australia Holdings Ltd said on Tuesday it is seeking a government loan of A$1.4 billion and exploring other options to get through the coronavirus crisis.

“It is a preliminary proposal and remains subject to approval by the Virgin Australia Holdings board, and may or may not include conversion to equity in certain circumstances,” the airline said in a statement.

The proposed loan package would allow the government to take an ownership stake in Australia’s second-largest airline if it is unable to repay the loan in two to three years

The Australian government has already announced some aid to the airline industry, including refunding and waiving charges such as domestic air traffic control fees worth A$715 million and A$198 million in support for regional aviation.

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said on Tuesday that he was speaking with airline industry stakeholders and representatives daily to make sure they were receiving the support they needed. 

With additional reporting by Reuters. 

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